How Social Analytics Became The Key For Modern-Day Marketers

How Social Analytics Became The Key For Modern-Day Marketers
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Kinship Digital GM Walter Adamson argues that most businesses only have a limited view of how to use social and says analytics is the key…

Companies remain hamstrung by a limited view of social that focuses too much on social media marketing. Instead they need a more holistic view of what social means for the whole business.

Social data is usually big data involving masses of data collected from social media. However it’s not big data that makes social analytics distinctive.

Rather it is the ability to derive required insights from such unstructured data. In short: it’s not just about the amount of data you have, it’s  about understanding what that data is trying to tell you – and revealing non-obvious factors which influence that understanding.

Social data analytics involves the analysis of social media in order to understand and surface insights that are embedded within the data. These insights include insights not only about data and potential outcomes, but also about people themselves. That’s a dramatic new power derived from social data – personality insights.

The fundamental difference between social and traditional data is that social data is real-time from real people and provides content, context and sentiment in ways which can be acted upon programmatically to achieve business outcomes.

First steps

Organisations need to have a holistic business view of “social”. Where we are at today is that most executives are limited by a mindset of “social media” being social media marketing, and that is a very limiting mindset. This mindset will also substantially limit their ability to “make the most” of their social media data because their social media data will be a poor subset of what it should be.

So what they need to do is to understand social as a whole, and build that notion into everything they, their employees, their organisation and their brands and areas of expertise stand for. Then they can start gathering data which will provide insights which they otherwise would be unable to obtain.

This requires a combination of tools ranging from first class social media monitoring, trend analytics, data and cognitive analysis, social network analysis, brand health, to customer insight business analytics. But all of this technology is the cart before the horse unless a holistic strategy is developed and deployed for social technologies across the business.

Think big… and small

Social data can be used at the micro scale and the macro scale.  At the micro scale increasingly sophisticated social media monitoring tools can analyse not only words (content) but also context and respond or set up a workflow programmatically. This can respond to very specific customer needs, at scale, which would not be feasible by other means and it is also pro-active.

At the macro scale trend analytics and data science applied over a period-  say one year’s data – can pin-point how sentiment has changed e.g. towards overseas call centres, and what issues are gaining traction and which are losing traction. Of course such analysis can also provide insights into what customers like and don’t like about competitors or brands or topics.

It can also identify which groups of customers cluster together in social media and which are the key influencers for each of these groups. These influencers can be identified for specific topics, and for specific groups. Although readily available this type of analysis is not yet commonly used, probably because of a lack of general competence in data science.

For example the City of Melbourne joined forces with IBM’s social analytics capabilities to analyse the 2014 Melbourne Spring Fashion Week and used insights and strategy based on social media analytics to reshape this years event (which starts this week). According to the organisers ticket sales for 2015 have “gone through the roof”. Not only that but sales for city retailers are expected to follow suit.

Of course, the role of social data in marketing shouldn’t be understated.

Both Marketing and Customer Insight teams seek to understand what makes customers buy or not buy, stay or not stay, accept up-sell or reject it, recommend or not recommend etc. The descriptive analytics of Customer Insights in collaboration with Marketing helps generate Personas, and in particular these days Digital Buyer Personas.

The new generation of social data media analytics (led by IBM with their Watson “artificial intelligence” system – the Watson Platform) applies cognitive analytics to social media data to extract portraits of individuals that reflect their personal characteristics.

Using this, marketing teams will, in the future, be able to send more relevant to individuals and have this automated as part of their social media monitoring and content management systems.

The holy grail of course is to marry  offline data and non-social data with social data to provide a complete view of the customer but it’s a problem that is yet to besolved at scale.

While it is still common today to have super-friendly social support staff say something like “we’d love to have you as a customer” to someone on Twitter and to have that person respond that they are already a customer – and have been for 10 years!

Technically the answer is simple – systems of record and systems of engagement need to link customer records through finding common customer identifiers. This is where marketing suites are headed linking social monitoring, social identifiers and CRM systems.

In practice it is a little vexed as the question of privacy comes into it, as discussed below.

Won’t somebody think of the children!

Sure, let’s talk about privacy.This is a popular conference topic but one which is not too hard to understand. The social sites themselves – Google, Facebook, Twitter – declare that for all practical purposes they own the data once you enter it into their system. That’s why Twitter for example, when they choose, can force you to take down a tweet which you might have pasted into you blog post.

On the other hand everything is public and indexed by Google to the extent that the sites make it public. Facebook gives you granular privacy controls. If you choose to make something public on Facebook then in theory they could release it to Google, as Twitter does.

However Facebook has very high privacy standards and only makes available aggregated and anonymous topic data through its interface to social media monitoring and analysis systems.

So social data found by brands in Google is essentially public, and subject only to copyright or usage rights and a brand’s own consideration of the appropriateness of using it.

Some social sites, such as Linkedin and Twitter, will make your email address available to interrogating systems and that’s how an individual’s non-social data and social data can be linked. If they do not make this available then creating that linkage is much more difficult.

This article originally appeared on B&T’s sister tech business site www.which-50.com

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